January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kenny Wheeler!

Trumpeter Kenny Wheeler (born 1930) grew up in Toronto, Canada, and became interested in jazz in his early teens. After moving to England, where he still lives, he started playing with groups in the local jazz scene in London, including Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott. He's recorded several LPs as a leader – his first was Windmill Tilter (1969) – and has recorded with other groups, both larger orchestras and small combos, over the years, including Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, Bob Brookmeyer, and Bill Frisell.
     His own avant-garde compositions often lean toward the complex and melancholic. As he stated in a 2003 interview, “I suppose I’m twisted because sad music makes me feel happy. My favorite people in jazz are the ones who sound a bit sad. Billie Holiday, Miles Davis – that’s a sad sound.” I don't think that's twisted - misery can generate great music and one can enjoy the expression without sharing the sentiment. The blues would never have been popular or influential if it just made us feel miserable.

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